Video: Called on the carpet
Transcript of: Called on the carpet
WILLIAMS: quotes heard round the world and the four-star career perhaps coming to an end. We begin our coverage with our chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell in our Washington newsroom. Andrea , good evening.
ANDREA MITCHELL reporting: Good evening, Brian . General McChrystal has had a rocky relationship with President Obama from the start, but the general 's decision to sound off about the entire national security team to Rolling Stone magazine could well be a firing offense at a critical time in America 's longest running war. General McChrystal and his aides express contempt for everyone up the chain of command, from the national security adviser to the vice president, even the commander in chief. On his first meeting with the president, a McChrystal aide told Rolling Stone " Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy who's going to run his .war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The boss was pretty disappointed." On Joe Biden , "Are you asking about Vice President Biden ?" McChrystal says with a laugh. "Who's that?" Today, before flying home for a public wood shedding, McChrystal was calling everyone he had criticized to apologize, and issued a statement saying, "It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should have never happened." But whether McChrystal keeps his job is now in doubt. At the White House today, Robert Gibbs refused to throw him a lifeline.
Mr. ROBERT GIBBS: I would say all options are on the table.
Unidentified Man: Including firing him?
Mr. GIBBS: I think all the options are on the table.
MITCHELL: One precedent, President Truman 's firing of General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War in 1951 . Tomorrow won't be President Obama 's first dressing down of McChrystal . After the general questioned the war strategy in London last fall, the president made him fly to Copenhagen and chewed him out on Air Force One . Today Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with the president and called the Rolling Stone interview "a significant mistake" showing poor judgement. In the interview McChrystal 's team even ridiculed key supporters in the Senate , saying politicians like John McCain and John Kerry "turn up, have a meeting with Karzai , criticize him at the airport press conference, then get back for the Sunday talk shows." Today none of them rushed to support the general .
Senator JOHN KERRY (Democrat, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman): I had a conversation with General McChrystal about a half hour ago and emphasized to him that I think obviously those are comments that he's going to have to deal with with respect to the commander in chief, vice president and his national security staff.
MITCHELL: The McChrystal showdown is taking place at a critical time in the war. 2010 is on track to be one of the deadliest years for US troops . General McChrystal has called Marjah , supposed to be a showcase of his strategy, a bleeding ulcer, the planned operation in Kandahar has been delayed, and the Karzai government is threatening to cut a deal with the Taliban .
General BARRY McCAFFREY, Retired (NBC News Military Analyst): The bigger question I would ask is, what are we supposed to do about Afghanistan ? You know, this armed forces -- McChrystal has been at war for nine years. This is now 46,000 killed and wounded. It's $9 billion a month. The country doesn't support the war.
MITCHELL: Some worry that McChrystal 's comments not only undermine the president but troop moral. The front page of tomorrow's Stars and Stripes , circulated to 90,000 frontline troops, says it all. The general 's interview "dumps fresh war dilemma on Obama 's desk." Andrea Mitchell , NBC News, Washington.